The California Blueberry Commission, established by a grower-shipper referendum this year, has tabbed Alex Ott to be the commission’s executive director.
Ott also serves in the same capacity for the California Apple Commission and the California Olive Commission.
“It’s been really fun to learn about the new commodity,” Ott said.
The California Blueberry Association, Strathmore, Calif., was the prime mover behind legislation to establish the commission. The bill sailed through the Legislature last fall and went into effect Jan. 1.
A meeting of the commission’s board of directors will be soon, Ott said, to set up the commission’s by-laws. Members elected Buck Klein, co-owner of Gourmet Blueberry-CA LLC, Delano, board chairman at its first meeting March 25.
Though a small industry compared to some other blueberry-growing states, the fruit is among California’s fastest growing commodities. The state produced 23 million pounds of fresh blueberries in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. In 2007, the state produced 14.5 million pounds; overall production in 2009 was 222.2 million pounds, according to the agricultural statistics service.
The commission’s budget will come from mandatory assessments of $12 per ton paid by grower-shippers and handlers. The funds will be used for generic marketing and promotional efforts.
The commission’s address is 770 E. Shaw Ave., Suite 220, Fresno, Calif., 93710. The telephone number is 559-255-3000.
(Note on correction: The original story had incorrect production numbers for California blueberries.)